Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gluten Roundup

The gluten-free diet is sweeping the country or at least awareness of potential issues from eating wheat. A number of health problems have been clearly associated with the regular consumption of wheat and gluten containing foods. These include Celiac disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, behavior disorders such ADHD, and liver disease, just to name a few. Many individuals who simply suspect a food component to a health concern have attempted the gluten-free diet, many finding that it indeed relieves some or all of their symptoms.

Studies have shown that the protein matrix referred to as gluten, found in wheat and related grains, can induce changes to the bowel epithelial (lining) cells and change the physical makeup and absorption system of the small intestines. This can result in such things as: leaky gut, disaccharidase deficiency, malabsorption, lactose intolerance, and cross-reactivity food sensitivities. Celiac disease is one of the more serious results, in certain individuals, in which there is the induction of an autoimmune cascade leading to severe damage to the small intestine architecture. It's believed that in the more serious reactions to gluten there is a genetic predisposition. But this doesn't account for all cases, especially when we consider the high rates of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In this case, environmental factors such as excess stress, infection, or medication side-effects can induce gluten intolerance.

The damaging effects of gluten can lead to a person being allergic or intolerant to other foods, making the situation even more complicated. Commonly dairy intolerance can result from the damaging effects of gluten. It's also been observed that gluten can induce intolerance to a long list of foods, including: chocolate, coffee, rice, oats, buckwheat, sorghum, potato, quinoa, millet, soy and tapioca. You'll note that many of these items are foods often used in place of wheat when on a gluten-free diet.

The question is often raised as to why all of a sudden is everyone intolerant to wheat and gluten? Like a lot of medical mysteries this one is still being sought after. Some of the top theories include the hybridization of wheat into a specific strain of high gluten hard winter wheat that dominates flour production and the food industry in the Western world. Perhaps we are weakening as a species.  The amount of grains consumed in the diet today is unprecedented in human history. Historically as grains became a human staple, they were processed in such a way to assist digestibility and nutritional content. Today those practices are largely ignored. They included fermentation, soaking and sprouting.

More recently the theory of toxicity has emerged. I recently read of research analyses that have correlated the use of herbicides such as Round Up (glyphosate) with the increase in gluten sensitivity. Glyphosate has been increasingly used to kill wheat crops near harvest to speed up the time it takes to get the wheat off the field and into your food. The glyphosate residue may shield the gluten from being properly digested then induce it's deleterious effects. If this is indeed the case, one can avoid this herbicide by eating only organic wheat. (note: glyphosate is widely use on corn, soy, and other crops and research is increasingly showing it causes harm)

Whether you are susceptible to Celiac disease or gluten intolerance, there are other benefits of reducing your intake of wheat, and all grains for that matter. Excess consumption of grains is associated with weight gain, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Often cutting down on gluten forces one to increase the diversity in his or her diet. Hopefully that means more nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, and lean meats.

There are lab tests available to test your tolerance or lack thereof to gluten. In addition, specialty labs have developed ways to test for sensitivity to other foods. Through this process you will likely find a new level of wellness and diversity in your diet.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Is Calcium Bad?

If you've heard any of the news reports regarding the dangers of taking calcium supplements and were confused, read this:

I agree with the heart of the article below.  I believe that most of the studies they sight and the problems with calcium is related to the primary form that is used in most supplements: calcium carbonate. In addition, it is the absolute ridiculous amount that is being recommended and taken. 1,000mg and even more in the form of a "Tums" pill or other junk supplement is definitely a bad thing to ingest. The key in my opinion, as they mention in the article, is to first eat a healthy whole diet, then supplement in a balanced way. I never recommend more than 200-500 mg of supplemental calcium per day. And 99% of the time it's in the 200 mg range or less. It is always from sources such as Albion chelates or calcium lactate, or whole food bone sources. Lastly it's always taken with other minerals and essential nutrients like vitamin K, D, A, Mag, Silica, etc. Vitamin K2 for instance is essential in ensuring that calcium gets transported to where it should be and NOT deposited in joints, soft tissues or the blood vessels. Oh ya, and don't forget that phosphorus intake has to be in balance with calcium. Isn't it so much easier if we just EAT RIGHT!
Hope this helps.

David Graves, ND

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Would you like your receipt?

I came across an article from that reminded me of the ever pervasive chemicals around us. Specifically, it's Bisphenol A or BPA, the stuff found to leach out of Nalgene water bottles and canned food containers. Bisphenol A or BPA can act like estrogen if absorbed into the body and can cause a host of issues from infertility to cancer. Now it's shown up in receipts of all places.

Evidently thermal receipt paper is often manufactured with BPA. It does transfer to your skin from handling a receipt and may be quickly absorbed so that it can't be washed off. Most at risk individuals are those who work in retail and handle receipts hundreds of times per day.

An EWG study of receipts from US retail companies found 40% of them had high BPA levels. Some of these companies included McDonald's, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods, Walmart, Safeway, and the US Postal Service. Even the US House of Representatives cafeteria had high levels. Efforts are already underway to further assess this issue and the impact on individuals, as well as pressures to encourage companies to use BPA free paper. Like many issues of toxicity and the environment, it may take years or decades for policy to catch up with good science and common sense. In the mean time, stay aware and maybe just skip getting your receipt.

See EWG article here:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Slow Down

I found this article interesting and a good reminder that it's not about doing more to be healthy. Maybe we need to do less and reconnect with ourselves.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just Say "No"

I've long thought it odd that our society vilifies "illegal" drug use while at the same time prescription drug use is growing rapidly. What's more, when you look at the most popular prescription medications, you realize that they are not curing anything and often doing more harm than good.

Statistics indicate that at least half of American adults are taking a prescription drug regularly. That number jumps to 90% for older adults. Even more disturbing is that almost 40% of adults over 60 are taking five or more prescription drugs, many who also are taking over-the-counter medications as well. There is a term for that; "Polypharmacy."

What are some of the most popular legal drugs? More than ten percent of younger adults are taking antidepressants. In teenagers, more than 6% are taking central nervous system stimulants (to treat ADD). 45% of adults 60 and above are taking a statin to lower cholesterol. Blood pressure medications and pain relievers round out the top for adults. Younger kids are getting asthma medications and antibiotics.

If these drug treatments were working, increasing their use should mean increasing the "wellness" of the population. No surprise this is not the case. We are getting sicker. Adverse events from prescribed medications are now a leading cause of hospital and doctor visits. Prescribed medications are now one of the top ten leading causes of death! In 2007 drug induced deaths ranked fourth. In 2009 there were 63,846 deaths from prescription medications.

When a drug is prescribed by a doctor, there is a false sense of safety. Many pain drugs are as addictive and harmful as heroin or cocaine, yet because it's a pill from the pharmacist, it seems so acceptable. The risks to the cardiovascular system, liver and GI tract from just acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or other NSAID are real. There is no free lunch.

The use of psychiatric medications for mood disorders and sleep are highly disruptive to the delicate natural balance of neurotransmitters and mental function. The adverse effects can be experienced throughout the body and take decades to resolve. Sadly, there is little done to actually assess the real causes of these health issues.

The wide spread overuse of antibiotics has resulted in super infections and is largely to blame for the rise in allergy and autoimmune diseases. Another false sense of security has been placed upon the sacred "vaccines," which are linked with immune and neurological disorders.

The abuse is found across all age groups. Doctors are prescribing for newborns and those near the end of life with abandon. No longer can we come into the world untouched by chemicals, nor die without polypharmacy. Could our healthcare crisis be related to all this expensive unnecessary interventions into the natural order of our lives?

Thankfully there is another way. You don't have to rely on pharmaceutical drugs as your first and last resort. It's all about where you place your faith. Is there a place for drugs? Yes, of course. You should give any prescription some critical thought as to its necessity.

Nearly all of the examples I've given above have a natural alternative. You (and hopefully your doctor) must first seek the true causes of your health problem and address that. Manage your symptoms using the least toxic means first. Unshackle your body to heal as it was designed. That is the heart of naturopathic medicine.